Welcome to the second installment of our guest posts by Allison Keiley. If you missed yesterday's Body Zen essay, you can find it here.
Moments of Body Zen, Part II: A Hamster off its Wheel
I was pretty sure my legs were going to explode when I pulled my ski boots off at the end of my second day on skis last season back in December—it was only my second day on skis in more than four years. The first had been two days prior, when I had made my way through a heavy, slushy, slow snow. I found myself tired but exhilarated; sweaty but, oddly enough, in shape.
When I got home a few hours later on that second day, I didn’t crawl crying up to bed at 8 p.m. as I thought I might. I was out until midnight having margaritas with friends, telling them that I’d just had the best couple of days ever. My cheeks were scarlet and still warm from the wind, my legs were somehow in tact, and the adrenaline rush I got from hurtling my body down a mountain was wearing off nicely.
I felt like a hamster that had finally been let off its wheel. All of the hours on the boring elliptical machine, the thousands of sit-ups and crunches, the grueling spinning classes I put myself through, the countless runs around the park…here was the payoff. In my mind, no longer did all those hours just add up and go around and around; instead, I envisioned how they had built my muscles, made my lungs stronger, and propelled me down the mountain to catch the last chair for one last run.
Listen, these words look really strange to me as I type them. I was that girl in gym class who’d fake sick on the day of the mile-long run. I was active as a kid, but I was more likely to win MVP of riding my bike around my neighborhood (pretending it was the horse I so wanted, no lie) than of the soccer field or basketball court. Organized sports terrified me—what if, on the day of the big game, I just didn’t feel like playing? I finally gave in and joined a gym four years ago because I left my illustrious waitressing career for my first desk job and all the pent up energy left me unable to sleep at night.
Mostly, though, I started working out because I had the time and common sense. Okay, I started sleeping again, I had more energy during the day, and I felt a lot better about my body, even though I didn’t notice it changing much. Also, my New England-bred, Puritanical sense of productivity and accomplishment was satisfied a bit more than back when I was napping three hours a day.
I wish that everyone would have something that makes them feel the way I do when I ski: wholly grateful that my body is well enough to comply with my demands. I’m also seeking out more things that give me that same sense of gratefulness I experienced skiing—I felt it a little recently when I was bodysurfing at the beach. Until then, when I’m feeling lazy and tired and one spin class away from the edge of reason, I just think snow.